A Report of the Society’s Visit to Christ Church Spitalfields on 25 January 2012

Thank God for neglect!  Mauling by the Victorians and then neglect to the point of dereliction by the late 1950’s provided the opportunity to restore this beautiful Hawksmoor baroque church, not just to its former glory but to its original 1729 glory; a shining beacon in this run down and deprived area of East London.  Yet in the late 1950’s it was deemed unsafe for the congregation to use and destined to be demolished – something that Hitler had failed to do (although the crypt replete with coffins was used as an air raid shelter!).   A committee (The Hawksmoor Committee) was formed to raise public awareness and campaign for the church’s retention, which they achieved with great success in spite of the then Bishop of Stepney’s views (Trevor Huddleston).   Although the church was saved, it remained derelict for many years.  Then in 1976 the Friends of Christ Church was formed to raise money for its restoration at a cost in excess of £10 million, which took until 2004, although parish worship was able to return in 1987.  Restoration is not quite complete: funds are still needed to restore the original 1735 Richard Bridge Organ, the pulpit and the lectern.  The result is a church much as the original architect intended, considered his masterpiece at the time and the size of a small cathedral, extensively using the original timber and other materials. The only Victorian feature retained is the 1876 stained glass east window which was too good to remove.

From a genealogy point of view there is wealth of information available, starting with the Natural History Museum!  The crypt contained 1000 iron coffins, piled high and even stood on end in every available space.  Yet the coffins had been so perfectly sealed that the contents had been preserved; clothes and bodies.  The value of this to historians, archeologists and even scientists was recognised, eventually resulting in the coffins being ‘loaned’ to the Natural History Museum in the 1980’s for research, where they are due to remain for another 10 years.  Every coffin was clearly inscribed and an index is available from the museum.  A further 68,000 burials have taken place in the churchyard, many in similar iron coffins.  These have all been reinterred but the church hold records of the bodies that could be identified.  In the past, the church has also been connected with both the East London Huguenots and Jewish communities, particularly the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews who placed a number of memorial tablets in the church.

A fabulous building well worth a visit if you can but with a great deal more information and photographs on their web sites.  http://www.christchurchspitalfields.org/v2/home/home.shtmland http://www.ccspitalfields.org/ The internet is also a good source of information about Nicholas Hawksmoor who was a pupil and protege of Christopher Wren, responsible for many notable buildings in England including six London churches erected under the 1711 Act for Fifty New Churches.

Barry Hepburn

Census email scam

 

The Society of Genealogists has received the following Statement from the Office of National Stistices (ONS) –

Statement from Director of the 2011 Census, Glen Watson, Friday 27 January 2012.

Email Scam

 

 

We are aware that an email entitled ‘Population Census: a message to everyone – act now’ is being circulated, allegedly in the name of National Statistician, Jil Matheson. This email demands individuals provide further personal information, supposedly for the Census and threatens fines for non-compliance.

 

This email is a scam and a hoax. It has no connection whatsoever with the National Statistician, the 2011 Census or the Office for National Statistics.

 

We believe the links in the email could download malware to any computer where the user clicks on the links. This could put your personal data, including financial information, at risk.

 

Anyone receiving this, or similar emails, should delete them, not open any links and certainly not provide any information.

 

For more information on how to protect yourself from this type of threat, please see www.getsafeonline.org

 

If you wish to, please report receipt of any such suspicious emails to www.actionfraud.org.uk

 

ONS takes the protection of personal census information extremely seriously. Collection of census data was completed last year and no further requests will be forthcoming from the Office for National Statistics relating to the 2011 Census.

 

______________________________________________________________________________

 

Glen Watson

Director. 2011 Census

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Findmypast.co.uk to publish Canterbury Cathedral Records on the Web

 

Findmypast has announced its latest archive project to increase access to over a million East Kent  baptism, marriage and burial records dating back to 1538. This is the first time that images of the original parish records from East Kent churches will appear online

 

 

Findmypast.co.uk has announced that it has been awarded a contract by Canterbury Cathedral Archives to publish online for the very first time historic records from the archive. The first phase of the Canterbury Collection project will see a browsable version of the parish registers of the historic Archdeaconry of Canterbury go online in the coming weeks at findmypast.co.uk.

An estimated 270,000 images containing over a million entries will be published on the website, covering parish churches from a wide expanse of East Kent, including:

  •  the city of Canterbury
  •  the towns of Faversham, Wye and Elham
  •  Thanet
  •  towns along the east Kent coast stretching from Whitstable in the north round to Hythe in the south

The launch has been timed to coincide with the temporary closure of Canterbury Cathedral Archives for refurbishment, so that family historians and local historians can continue to enjoy access to these fascinating records until the Archives reopens in autumn 2012.

From the initial online launch in February, visitors to the findmypast.co.uk website will be able to browse through the scanned pages of the parish records to search for their ancestors. At the same time, findmypast.co.uk will start to transcribe the records, with a view to creating an index and making them fully searchable on the website later this year.

 

Canterbury Cathedral Archivist Cressida Williams, added: “Working with findmypast has provided us with a wonderful opportunity to expand access to these records to a worldwide audience. This resource will be a great asset for anyone with an interest in the history of this part of Kent.”

The Canterbury Collection will join an impressive array of UK parish records at findmypast.co.uk and available free in the Society of Genealogists’ Library, including records from Manchester Archives, Cheshire Archives, Plymouth & West Devon Record Office and Welsh Archives, in addition to over 40 million parish records from family history societies throughout the UK in partnership with the Federation of Family History Societies.

Anyone wishing to be notified when the Canterbury Collection becomes available can register online at www.findmypast.co.uk to receive a newsletter.

 

About Canterbury Cathedral Archives

Canterbury Cathedral Archives collects, cares for, and provides access to, records relating to Canterbury Cathedral, the City of Canterbury, parishes in the historic Archdeaconry of Canterbury, and other local institutions and families. The Archives closes on 31st January for refurbishment work, due to reopen in Autumn 2012. Findmypast.co.uk is working with the Cathedral Archives on ‘the Canterbury Collection’, made up of registers of parishes in the historic Archdeaconry of Canterbury.

http://www.canterbury-cathedral.org/history/archives.aspx

 

 

 

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Last chance to vote for Genealogy Rock Stars

Voting for the Anglo-Celtic  Connections Blog survey to determine genealogists of “rock star” status ends on Saturday 28 July

Many will be familiar with  SoG member John Reid’s excellent blog Anglo Celtic Collections. John is a stalwart of the Canadian genealogy community and certainly keeps attuned to news and events in the British and Irish Genealogy scene.

John has devised a  survey to determine rock star genealogists, women and men who give “must attend” presentations at genealogy conferences and/or write “must read” family history articles or publications.

 

Voting is now open. There’s more than one rock star so vote for as many as you want. it’s your opportunity to express your appreciation for the genealogists who wow you with their presentations and/or writing. Consider both style and content.

I note from John’s updates that the British community is  a little under represented amongst the the voters so we should make up for that. There are some excellent genealogy communicators from the English speaking world on this list (including several SoG members) and it’s a very interesting list of people to follow. Thanks to everyone who made nominations and congratulations to all who have been nominated.

As well as asking for your votes the survey asks basic questions on country of residence, gender and age range which you may respond to with “prefer not to answer.”

As John says – Please feel free to use Twitter, Google+, Facebook, blogs, emails, telephone, posters tacked to telephone poles, smoke signals, carrier pigeons and other publicity to encouraging voting which is planned to close late on Saturday 28 January.

 

START HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY

 

 

 

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Findmypast publishes new 1881 census index for Scotland

I’m very interested to note that Findypast have just published a new version of the 1881 Scottish census on findmypast.co.uk

The census recorded the population of Scotland at over 3.7 million in 1881 and they’ve freshly transcribed these records to ensure your ancestors’ details are accurately recorded.

The  1841-1871 Scottish censuses are already available on findmypast.co.uk. scot 1881 Findmypast publishes new 1881 census index for ScotlandYou’ll be keen to search the 1881 Scottish census for the ancestors you’ve traced in the previous censuses. If you haven’t been able to find your ancestors in the earlier Scottish censuses, now’s the time to search the 1881 census to see if they make an appearance.

The high quality transcriptions make it easy to discover the crucial details about your ancestors’ lives and will be interesting to compare this version of the index to that we have all been using for the last 10 years or so. Sadly it is not possible to view the original census images on findmypast.co.uk, due to the General Register Office for Scotland’s licensing regulations but anyone searching at the Society of Genealogists Library will be able to use our copies of the Scottish census films in conjunction with Findmypast Index. Of course Findmypast is free to use at the Society’s Library and our members receive a discount on the FMP subscription as part of their SOG membership benfits.

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